June 16, 2008

Anti-Procrastination Tips

An Academic Writing Club member recently posted these anti-procrastination techniques on the message board.

Here are the tips I try to use to get myself to work:

1) WARM UP ROUTINE -- Instead of starting with email, news sites, or any of the other things that I find lead to hours of procrastination ... I try to have a "prep time" for writing as warm up:

  • I put on the same mix cd each time I write (mental cue)
  • Open the diss chapter (NOTHING ELSE except EndNote -- Close email and web browser)
  • Then clean off my desk
  • Warm up my coffee
  • Set the kitchen timer for the min. amount of time I want to write
  • Finally -- And this may sound quite odd, I light a prayer candle (I use the Virgin of Guadalupe, because I have deemed her patron saint of anthropologists, given the role she played in colonization and the Catholic church's stance on indigenous Mexicans). Although I am not really religious -- I say a little prayer (a mantra would be good to) to just write something, regardless of whether or not it is good. Then I write.

I find if I get the ball rolling with this routine, it really helps me to actually write.

2) WHY AM I PROCRASTINATING? At the same time, since Friday was a complete loss, I am trying to be more mindful of what I am feeling (or rather, what precisely I am anxious about) when I am avoiding work. If I allow myself to be aware of what I am feeling, I find I can combat it more easily.

3) REWARD CHART See Gina's newsletter this month I give myself points for writing before a certain time, writing a second session, writing a certain length of time. Also, because my problem is too much time, too few outside responsibilities, and isolation from virtually ALL of society -- I give myself points for doing other things, too .... Racking up the points makes me feel good and then I give myself weekly rewards for getting certain levels of points.

4) JUST 10 MINUTES Jayne [Writing Club coach] has a good point about just 10 min ... I find when I completely miss a day the next day is less productive, too. If at least sit down for 15 min, I do better. Likewise, I also will procrastinate until midnight ... and whatever time I spend then isn't as productive, and still makes me feel guilty for wasting the day when I could have done 30 min in the am & had a great day.

5) DRESS FOR WORK Sometimes I find it helps me if I get out of my pajamas, shower, and put on the type of clothes I would wear to campus for a talk or to teach. It gives me the mindset of "going to work" as a professional.

6) BOOK COVER MOCK UP In my case, the goal for my dissertation is to then publish it as my first book ... I made a little mock up of the "book cover" just in Word with clip art -- Printed that out and have it hanging above my desk. A friend of mine who is a screen writer, prints and frames the title page of his scripts before he begins working -- A visual reminder of the end product to get beyond the tedium. I try and take the time to look at the book cover & visualize being at the point where I'll have that friggin book in hand with my name on the cover!

I don't know if any of this will help ...or if sound like a nut case ... but those are my little mind tricks ...when I use them (!), they make a difference.

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At 2:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. You've given me some stuff to think about.


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